This production by Northgate Theatre Company of Wiliam Luce’s evocation of the life and work of Emily Dickinson is set in the poet’s home towards the end of her life.
Performed in the intimate space of the upstairs theatre at the Mission, and to an undeservedly sparse audience, this is nevertheless a tour de force of a solo performance. Helen Wuscher as Emily, in her trademark white frilled dress, does a faultless job of bringing out the poet’s many passions: cooking and baking; flowers; birds; the natural world in general; the nature of love; and of death – a subject that obsessed her throughout her life – but most of all, her intense love affair with words. Her personality is not here represented as some sort of morbid recluse, though her withdrawal into her parents’ house and her feelings about that are not avoided.
Dickinson kept up a constant communication with her sister and other friends and acquaintances – mostly by letter to be sure, but communication is communication, and she is portrayed here as a woman longing for, and assiduous in communicating.
Wuscher’s performance is full of life and vigour, charming an audience by the vivacity of her telling of Emily’s life, interwoven seamlessly with the speaking of many examples of her verse – which become part of, not separate from the action. Not an easy task to pull off, but here accomplished with complete success. A warm and satisfying piece of theatre.
John Christopher Wood